The New England Patriots received a major boost on Friday when the league announced it would be reinstating Josh Gordon from his indefinite suspension. With a bevy of Patriots’ receivers injured, the news could not come at a better time.
New England will enter Saturday’s preseason game against Tennessee with Dontrelle Inman and Braxton Berrios as their most experienced receiving options. While certainly not bad players, it’s a far cry from what the Patriots’ had a week ago.
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Gordon’s return will be timely and it will be interesting to see how he slots into the offense and, even more interesting, who gets bumped out of the rotation.
Here’s how New England’s depth chart at wide receiver looks with Gordon back in the fold. The list does not include Cameron Meredith, who is on the PUP list, or Matthew Slater who is primarily a gunner on special teams.
The Super Bowl LIII MVP is working his way back from a thumb injury but will be set to go for the regular season. Edelman added a new dimension to the Patriots’ offense following his return from injury and suspension last season. In 12 regular-season games, he put up 850 receiving yards on 74 catches, finding the endzone six times. He’ll be Brady’s top option short, aside from his trusty check-down James White.
With Josh Gordon as an option in play-action, Tom Brady was as good as he’s ever been. And even in non-play-action situations, Gordon was enough to draw one and two defenders to free up other options. He averaged 18 yards a catch and totaled 720 for the season, not bad for just 11 games.
This is not a knock on N’Keal Harry (spoiler, he’s next) but rather a compliment to Meyers’ versatility. He’s 6-foot-2 and plays primarily as a slot receiver. But his height and quickness allow him to play on the outside at times and make some tough grabs in coverage. He’s already showcased the ability to reel in balls between defenders, and his upside has already risen.
Drops were a problem early in training camp for the first-round draft pick, but he calmed the chatter with a pair of acrobatic catches on a bad hamstring against Detroit. He, too, is working back from a couple of minor leg ailments that shouldn’t keep him out for any regular-season game.
A veteran with five 1,000-yard seasons, Thomas has quietly entered the fold and looks to have built a strong relationship off the field already. Having Thomas along with Gordon as deep options brings back memories of Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth from 2007. Better buckle up.
Acquired in a trade with the Colts two seasons ago, Dorsett gained more trust as a pass-catcher last season and was a major factor for New England down the stretch. Without Gordon, Dorsett was New England’s speedy, deep option and he did a decent job.
He missed his rookie season due to injury, but if his college production is any indication, Berrios is a big-time player. He had 625 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for Miami as a senior in 2017 and was a factor in the Hurricanes’ offensive success that season. In the preseason so far, he has looked like another Edelman, refusing to go down while fighting for the extra yardage and can make contested grabs all over the field.
He’s been dealing with an injury this week too. But Harris showed some promise in the Patriots’ preseason opener with a touchdown catch and still might have an edge towards earning a roster spot.
The final three receivers — Damoun Patterson, Ryan Davis, and Gunner Olszewski — are all likely to be cut. But for the latter, Olszewski is working extremely hard, has learned the playbook quicker than expected, and has returning ability and two-way versatility to make the practice squad.
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